I know there’s some judgements in the air about this.
What learnt? Aren’t you Malaysian?
Which brings me to point (1)
1. I feel that I am not very Malaysian
I noticed this when I was living abroad. When I had to explain certain cultures, I was always at a blank. I am afraid to say this, but at times, I felt that I knew more about the Japanese culture more than my own.
I know that many judge me for it but I guess it has been something I was always afraid to embrace. The not ‘Malaysian’ enough mentality. Sometimes I do force myself to be knowledgable at certain areas and do begrudgingly tell myself, “eh, you are Malaysian please. You suppose to know this”.
Covid took place when I was in Japan. And if many of you do not know this, Japan was NEVER in any form or state of lockdown or in Malaysia, restricted movement order. I am still extremely thankful and grateful for this.
So when I first came back to Malaysia, I was very intimidated with MySejahtera app and check-in. I was very intrigued with the idea of optional mask when in public open spaces.
Needless to say, I was initially very stunned with the infection rate too. A lot of my contacts were positive cases and my team at work have all had it at one point in their lives previously. So, I was very amazed to learn that almost all my “kenalan” (acquaintances) have got covid at least once.
Also because we rarely use private motor vehicle as source of transportation in Japan, I have never left the house without a mask on. It was kind of a culture shock being back in Malaysia. And being able to sit in a car. Or shall I say, you must have a car in Malaysia?
3. Pedestrian walkway accessibility
Which comes to point number 3.
I knew that Malaysia wasn’t the best in terms of accessibility. First payroll investment would be into a car. I also knew that public transportation was scarce but I learnt (recently) that public transportation is indeed getting better. It is not the best but improvement is still something rather than nothing. Agreed?
Life in Japan is very convenient. We take the trains, the bikes or even walk a lot. I mean I love walking. But Malaysia’s humidity and weather isn’t the most ideal walking environment.
And then we have the walkways.
Not the best or rather, rarely any. I eventually got used to the idea of driving for a 5 minute walk because of the heat and inaccessibility.
4. What weather forecast?
In a four season country, we usually always check the weather forecast before leaving the house. I would plan to take an umbrella out with me and plan my wardrobe if the day was predicted to be rainy. Heck, I even do my laundry based on the weather forecast.
Back in Malaysia, the weather changes like the wind. It could suddenly be raining cats and dogs for 10 minutes followed by intense sun-rays afterwards. A forecasted rainy day can be sunny all day (literally just happened yesterday). I get very sad when I am doing my laundry. I feel I have to be home to “jaga” (watch over) my clothes that are drying outside.
5. Cost of living
Oh man. The most sensitive topic.
Can I survive on my salary?
I am extremely appreciative of my lifestyle and income back in Japan. As a single person with little commitment (no children or family to take care of), I could easily save half of my income in Tokyo. And still enjoy life sufficiently. Of course, it is dependant on each individual lifestyle.
Looking at the prices of meals in Malaysia or KL to be specific.
I am learning of ways to be efficient with my lifestyle and budget. It is definitely a challenge especially since I am a person who sets aside my savings first to determine my expenses.
I am learning bit by bit, day by day from my co-workers. It has definitely been an eye opener for me on life in Malaysia.
While everyone in my age group is getting married and raising a family, I am learning on ways to survive on my income here.
What shouldn’t be a culture shock, is somewhat, one.
I feel that I have set myself back in time by 5 years with moving and starting a life in Japan. I sometimes doubt my decisions in giving away the life I struggled to establish in Japan, only to have a hard reset back in Malaysia. I look at children who just finished school and are having dinner with their families in their school uniforms at 7pm and I can’t help but to constantly remind myself that age is only a number.
I still have a lot to adjust and learn from now that I have restarted my career and life back in Malaysia.
I wonder if it is all the same for those who were expats abroad and decided to come home.
And I came up with the perfect answer to questions if I would return to Japan again:
When the right opportunity arises.